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'Resistance Reexamined: Gender, Fan Practices, and Science Fiction Television'
Unformatted Document Text:  20 Sue” in order to achieve it, or construct elaborate psychoanalyses of why a hero exhibits “low self esteem” in favoring a woman who presents a challenge, as does an admirer of Farscape’s John Crichton. One might postulate, however, that if Aeryn did not challenge John and, instead, became “readily available” as this fan supposedly prefers, she might well declare the relationship dysfunctional on those grounds. The opportunistic arrogation of seemingly enlightened discourse on the part of such fans is noteworthy and, without careful scrutiny, could easily be mistaken for heartfelt opposition at a motivational level. Appreciating a romantic/sexual dimension to such female characters, whether in terms of a male protagonist or not, is also at issue. The truism that a strong female hero should not “sleep with everything in pants” notwithstanding (Peterson, 2000), Scodari and Felder (2000) found that slash and Mary Sue fan impulses, among others, abetted the framing of the character of Scully as the Madonna figure in a Madonna/whore complex (pp. 249-252). Interestingly, in reaction to a fan who thought Scully was the “epitome of womanhood” because she was able to “work with Mulder without jumping him,” Gillian Anderson, who played Scully, retaliated with chagrin: “So the epitome of womanhood is sexual restraint? I don’t think so” (qtd. in Kushner, 1998, p. 61). Suggesting that fans can react hegemonically to textual features that are counter- hegemonic in terms of designated issues of power does not let producers off the hook, however. Such contextual analysis can expose hegemonic text that begs to be dissected and opposed. This essay has stumbled upon the apparent necessity for science fiction heroines conceived as “strong” to take up the “masquerade” of their tough, gun-toting male correlates, and this is but one line of inquiry that subsequent investigators might pursue. Ethnographers could undertake long term exploration of the phenomena revisited here, or of the practices of female fans who do identify with female heroes in male-oriented texts. Others might engage in intricate theorization of the pertinent, conflicting modes of address. In any event, the research substantiates the wisdom of Kellner’s (1997) admonition that, as with any discursive site, “difficult discriminations” must be made when gauging

Authors: Scodari, Christine.
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Sue” in order to achieve it, or construct elaborate psychoanalyses of why a hero exhibits
“low self esteem” in favoring a woman who presents a challenge, as does an admirer of
Farscape’s John Crichton. One might postulate, however, that if Aeryn did not challenge
John and, instead, became “readily available” as this fan supposedly prefers, she might
well declare the relationship dysfunctional on those grounds. The opportunistic arrogation
of seemingly enlightened discourse on the part of such fans is noteworthy and, without
careful scrutiny, could easily be mistaken for heartfelt opposition at a motivational level.
Appreciating a romantic/sexual dimension to such female characters, whether in
terms of a male protagonist or not, is also at issue. The truism that a strong female hero
should not “sleep with everything in pants” notwithstanding (Peterson, 2000), Scodari and
Felder (2000) found that slash and Mary Sue fan impulses, among others, abetted the
framing of the character of Scully as the Madonna figure in a Madonna/whore complex
(pp. 249-252). Interestingly, in reaction to a fan who thought Scully was the “epitome of
womanhood” because she was able to “work with Mulder without jumping him,” Gillian
Anderson, who played Scully, retaliated with chagrin: “So the epitome of womanhood is
sexual restraint? I don’t think so” (qtd. in Kushner, 1998, p. 61).
Suggesting that fans can react hegemonically to textual features that are counter-
hegemonic in terms of designated issues of power does not let producers off the hook,
however. Such contextual analysis can expose hegemonic text that begs to be dissected and
opposed. This essay has stumbled upon the apparent necessity for science fiction heroines
conceived as “strong” to take up the “masquerade” of their tough, gun-toting male
correlates, and this is but one line of inquiry that subsequent investigators might pursue.
Ethnographers could undertake long term exploration of the phenomena revisited here, or
of the practices of female fans who do identify with female heroes in male-oriented texts.
Others might engage in intricate theorization of the pertinent, conflicting modes of address.
In any event, the research substantiates the wisdom of Kellner’s (1997) admonition
that, as with any discursive site, “difficult discriminations” must be made when gauging


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